Westland Wessex HAS.1 XM330: The Missile Tester

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Introduction: The Westland Wessex was a true workhorse of the British armed forces, serving in every arm in various roles for many years. It was initially brought in as an anti-submarine helicopter, but its roles would soon be extended to commando support, air-sea rescue and others. Today’s suggestion is about a particular helicopter which aided in the development of the commando assault role.

Description: The Westland Wessex was a license-built version of the Sikorsky S-58, with prototypes retaining the piston engine, although production vehicles would use the Napier Gazelle gas turbine. This would not only increase power and performance but also weighed less. The Wessex HAS.1 would enter service in 1961, with the last one being retired in 1979. The helicopters were mainly used in the ASW role, supplementing, and eventually replacing the Whirlwinds which came before them. They would provide the backbone of the ASW fleet until being upgraded to HAS.3 standard and being complemented by the Sea Kings. Some HAS.1s would be converted to the commando assault role in the form of the Commando Mk.1s, which were essentially just HAS.1s with their ASW equipment removed and the ability to carry rockets and missiles.

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Service History: These capabilities were first trialled on a specific HAS.1 with the registration XM330, which was an early production HAS.1 which spent its entirely life doing trials work with the RAE. The helicopter carried out tropical trials for the Wessex in Libya and in Malta, altitude trials in the Alps and icing trials with Westland throughout 1961, with missile trials taking place at Salisbury Plain in 1962. The aircraft would remain in RAE use up to 1994 when it was given to the Helicopter Museum in Weston-super-Mare.

Performance:

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Rotor diameter: 17.07 m
Length: 20.04 m
Weight: 3446 kg - Max.5715
Speed : Max. 212 Km/h
Power: 1 Napier Gazelle 161 (1450 hp)
Range: 1038 Km
Accommodation:
Pilot, plus 3 (ASW)
No. Built: 167

Armament: 4x AS.11, 2x AS.12, 2x Mk.43/44/46 torpedo, 2x Mk.11 depth charges
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Conclusion: I believe that this would make for an interesting addition to the UK tree either as a premium or as part of a potential naval line of UK helicopters. Either way, it would most certainly be a welcome addition to the tree.

Sources:

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WESTLAND WESSEX Mk.31 B - AIRCREW NOTES - RAN - 1967. DOWNLOAD or DVD | eBay
https://www.helis.com/database/cn/14162/
Westland Wessex HAS Mk.1.
https://www.aviatorsdatabase.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Westland-Timeline.pdf
Westland "Wessex" helicopter - development history, photos, technical data
Westland Wessex HAS1, XM330 / WA014, Royal Navy : ABPic
Westland Wessex: Royal Aircraft Establishment Wessex HAS.1… | Flickr
Westland Wessex HAS1, XM330 / WA014, Royal Navy : ABPic

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What is the armament? You didn’t specify.

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Edited now

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Thanks!

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+1 the wessex family could go in a separated branch like the mi8

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